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Exeter's verdict on injury that ruled Cowan-Dickie out for England

By Liam Heagney

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Exeter boss Rob Baxter has spoken about the ankle ligament injury that has forced Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie to give up his place in the England squad for next month’s series of internationals at Twickenham. The hooker initially limped off during his club’s Gallagher Premiership win last Saturday at Wasps, making him a doubt for Test squad duty. 

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Despite this concern, Cowan-Dickie was included by Eddie Jones in the 34-strong England squad announced on Monday afternoon, a selection that suggested the injury might not be as bad as was initially feared. However, scan results eventually ruled the forward out on Tuesday afternoon and it led to the recall of Jamie George, one of Monday’s most high profile squad exclusions.  

Club coach Baxter has now shed further light on the prognosis surrounding Cowan-Dickie, explaining at his midweek Exeter media briefing that his player should be back in contention for the December 11 Champions Cup clash with Montpellier.

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“He has had a scan. The good news is that it doesn’t require an operation but it is a significant (ankle ligament) injury that is going to keep him out at least for the duration of the autumn internationals. Hopefully, we will see him back pre-Europe. It’s a six-to-eight-week type of injury recovery.

“It’s a blow for us. Obviously, we would have only had him for one more game which would have been this weekend (this Saturday versus London Irish), then he would have been away with England. It’s a blow for us but in reality, we are probably only going to miss him for a couple of games throughout that period as he would have been away with England. 

“It’s probably a bigger blow for Luke and England than it is for us in an odd kind of way. What we have got to do now is help him with his rebab, get him back and firing and if he plays well through the Christmas period, which includes the big European games, then he will put himself back in the ring-seat for getting back with England in the Six Nations.”

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Having anticipated Cowan-Dickie, who toured with this year’s Lions in South Africa, would have been unavailable for the duration of the autumn international series if he was playing for England, Baxter added that Exeter are well covered anyway despite his absence now being for an injury-related reason. “Jack Yeandle always steps in for us and does a great job. It is one of the big strengths of the club how well he has played whenever he has been required and often he has even kept Luke out of the team when Luke is here anyway. 

“Jack Innard has been improving all the time, getting some genuine game time and has been picked above those guys in previous games this season. We have got some good options. Jordon Poole is getting game time at Coventry.

“Ollie Burrows is looking good playing for the uni. Max Norey is now down playing in Plymouth. We have got guys who are playing so we have got guys who can come and fit in, but that is just the nature of the beast. We are fortunate we haven’t got any hooker injuries other than Luke, which we would have been covering at this period anyway.”

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Exeter's verdict on injury that ruled Cowan-Dickie out for England

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